Pregnancy got you feeling achy all over? We hear you! Try these tried-and-tested pregnancy stretches.
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You need some of our best pregnancy stretches to counteract all those pregnancy aches and pains and keep you strong and limber even in the latter stages of pregnancy.
Whether you’re after pregnancy sciatica stretches, third trimester stretches, pregnancy hip pain relief, or just general pregnancy-safe stretches, we’ve got you covered with 15 of the best pregnancy stretches.
In this article: 📝
- Is stretching safe during pregnancy?
- What are some good stretches to do while pregnant?
- Pregnancy stretches in bed
- Pregnancy sciatica stretches
- Stretches for third trimester
- What stretches to avoid when pregnant?
Is stretching safe during pregnancy?
While you should seek approval from your doctor before starting any new exercise regime when you’re pregnant, prenatal stretching is very unlikely to hurt your baby.
However, you do have to be cautious not to hurt yourself.
The pregnancy hormone, Relaxin, does a good job of loosening your ligaments to prepare your body for childbirth, but it also makes it easier for you to over-stretch.
If you’re wondering, is bending safe in pregnancy?, just keep in mind that your body is different these days.
So don’t overdo anything, and only keep stretching for as long as it is comfortable.
You can do this by holding positions where you feel a moderate stretch and avoid pushing into pain.
Only hold a stretch for as long as is comfortable and remember that you shouldn’t have to hold your breath to get into a stretch.
After the first trimester, it’s recommended to avoid lying flat on your back and doing any excessive backward bends.
Using a bolster or propping yourself up on pillows can help you continue to use stretches you enjoy while avoiding being totally flat on your back.
Can stretching harm unborn baby?
No, stretching during pregnancy shouldn’t hurt your baby, as long as you do it safely.
There are a few golden rules when it comes to pregnancy stretches you should be aware of:
- Pregnancy stretches that make you ‘bounce’ to bend more can put too much pressure on your joints, so they’re best to avoid.
- If a pregnancy stretch hurts, stop doing it.
- If you have to force a pregnancy stretch, it’s not right for you.
Can stretching cause miscarriage?
No, stretching shouldn’t cause miscarriage, as long as you don’t force a painful stretch, or a pregnancy stretch that’s too tight.
Regular, light stretching during pregnancy can instead alleviate pain and stress, which is good for both you and baby.
Why does my stomach hurt when I stretch while pregnant?
It might not be the pregnancy stretch that’s causing your stomach pain.
Instead (especially during your first trimester), it could be your uterus stretching to accommodate your growing baby.
Your uterus stretching can feel light a sharp, shooting pain at the side of your stomach, and is nothing to worry about.
You’re just making room for baby!
Other causes of abdominal pain during pregnancy can also be attributed to the ligaments around the uterus which are also put on stretch as your belly grows.
Pain caused by the round ligament is usually brought on with movement.
What are some good stretches to do while pregnant?
Pregnancy stretches can make you feel as light as air — momentarily at least!
Here are our favorite stretches for pregnant women:
Shoulder and neck pregnancy stretches
If your neck and shoulders are feeling tight, creaky, or painful, these shoulder and neck pregnancy stretches could alleviate your pain and help you feel more limber:
1. Arm raises/Shoulder rolls
A nice, easy, relaxing pregnancy stretch to get us started.
Sit cross-legged, with your back straight (place a pillow under your bottom if sitting tall is hard while sitting cross-legged).
Inhale, raise your arms out to the sides, your hands meeting above your head.
On an exhale, lower them down again.
Roll your shoulders forwards and backward in big circles.
Repeat as many times as feels good.
This can help relieve tension in your chest, too, and you can use it as a meditative pregnancy stretch for extra mindfulness.
2. Neck tilt
Another simple and quick pregnancy stretch to ease your neck pain.
Facing forwards, let your neck drop to the left, toward your shoulder.
Don’t pull on your head with your hand, as this can place too much tension through your neck.
Repeat on the other side.
Back stretches for pregnancy
On the hunt for back stretches during pregnancy?
We get it ‒ especially in the second and third trimester, your back can be under a lot of pressure.
So here are the best back stretches for pregnancy for you to try:
If you’re a yoga fan, you’ve probably heard of the cat/cow pose.
This is one of the most highly recommended back stretches during pregnancy in the Peanut community ‒ easy, quick, and it really does the job for pregnancy sciatica relief.
Move onto all fours.
On an inhale, let your back drop down, lift your tailbone, and raise your head to look forwards, slightly upwards.
Hold — this is Cow.
On your exhale, arch your back up, tuck your butt under, and move your chin to your chest.
Hold — this is Cat.
Easily one of our top stretches for pregnancy back pain and a great stretch for your pelvic floor!
4. Backward stretch (or Child’s Pose)
Another yoga-inspired pregnancy stretch for back pain, the aptly-named Child’s Pose is great if you’re after a meditative pregnancy stretch before bed, or to welcome the day.
On all fours with the tops of your feet on the floor, push backward with your hands, so your butt drops down between your legs and your body and face come down to the floor.
In the latter stages of pregnancy, you might have to keep your knees quite wide to allow space for your bump, or use a fitness ball under your arms to keep your body and arms elevated.
5. How to pop back while pregnant
So this one isn’t technically a pregnancy stretch, but we know what it’s like to have that feeling in your back that you just want to… crack!
So if you want to know how to pop your back while pregnant (safely), here’s how you can do it:
Sit comfortably on a chair with a back that reaches just before your shoulder blades.
Roll the top of your back over the top of the chair back, as far as you can without it causing you any pain.
You may hear a ‘crack’ or two, you might not.
The key is not to force yourself to lean backward until you hear a crack ‒ popping your back while pregnant doesn’t always mean it has to crack.
If you’re in your second or third trimester with a baby bump, and you’re feeling some back pain, it can be worth getting in touch with your doctor, who may be able to recommend a chiropractor or physical therapist specializing in pregnancy back stretches.
Pelvis and hip stretches for pregnancy
How about some pregnancy hip pain relief?
Your hips and pelvis are under a lot of pressure in your third trimester, especially when baby makes their grand appearance.
But if you want to get ahead of the curve, pregnancy hip stretches can help your body and mind prepare for what’s ahead.
And when it comes to stretches for pregnancy pelvic pain, they really can work wonders.
Let’s dive into the best hip-opening stretches for pregnancy and stretches for pelvic pain during pregnancy.
6. Pelvic tilts
Hands up ‒ who else loves The Rocky Horror Picture Show?
Well, if you’re a fan, you’ll be familiar with this pregnancy stretch for pelvic pain.
Stand, and put your hands on your hips.
(Skip bringing your knees in time)
Tilt your pelvis backward, lifting your butt up.
Now, tilt your pelvis forwards and tuck your butt under.
It’s best to do this pregnancy stretch a little slower than the beat of Time Warp ‒ after all, this is a pregnancy stretch, not a pregnancy dance!
7. Hip flexor lunge
This is one of the best stretches for tight hips during pregnancy, and one of the Peanut community’s favorite hip-opening stretches for pregnancy.
Step up onto the first stair or an exercise step with your left leg.
Hold onto a wall or banister for balance.
Transfer your weight forwards and lunge, bending your left leg further.
Swap to the right-hand side and repeat.
If you’re in the latter stages of pregnancy, looking after your beautiful baby bump, you might be wondering, How can I stretch my legs while pregnant?
Well, it’s all about a little pressure applied often to your joints ‒ not big pregnancy stretches done every now and then.
8. Thigh stretch
This pregnancy stretch for legs is amazing if you’re suffering from thigh cramps, or you haven’t had time to do any pregnancy exercises.
Standing up, holding onto a sturdy object for balance, lift one leg, bending at the knee to bring your foot behind you to your butt, holding at the ankle to keep it there.
Hold for as long as is comfortable.
Repeat on the other side.
9. Calf stretch
This pregnancy stretch isn’t about proving how far you can stretch, it’s all about stretching as far as you want ‒ as long as it feels comfortable.
Sit down and extend your legs in front of you — your legs might have to be quite wide to allow room for bump. That’s fine.
Point your toes down, towards the ground. Hold.
Flex your feet upwards, pointing your toes to the sky. Hold.
Repeat for as many times as you like. (Which might be a lot – it feels great!)
Pregnancy stretches in bed
Whether you’re advised to stay on pregnancy bed rest, or you’re just feeling exhausted, your body will definitely appreciate these pregnancy stretches in bed:
Yup, Kegel stretches definitely count as pregnancy stretches you can do in bed!
To do a Kegel, tighten the muscles around your vagina up, like you’re stopping the flow of pee.
Hold for 5-10 seconds while doing measured, slow breaths, release, then repeat.
Remember to fully relax between each contraction to get the most out of the exercise.
Trust us: the sooner you start Kegels, the more your body will thank you when it comes to labor and delivery!
This pregnancy stretch is a little harder to do when you have a bigger bump, but if you’re comfortable, it can alleviate some pressure from your back.
Start by lying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, then contract your glutes (butt muscles) and raise your butt off the ground, keeping your shoulders on the bed.
For support, place your arms palms-down on the bed by your sides.
Hold your ‘bridge’ for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat.
12. Lying-down side-lean
After a pregnancy stretch for your sides?
This one is super-easy to do, but may be a little uncomfortable if you have a big bump.
Simply lie face-up on your bed, then gently lean to one side, so your hand can touch the middle of your leg.
Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly switch sides, hold for another 10 seconds, and relax.
You can also do this one standing up to get a good side body stretch.
Pregnancy sciatica stretches
Sciatica can affect up to 80% of pregnant women at some point in their pregnancy.
So it stands to reason that you’ll want some stretches for sciatic pain during pregnancy.
Here are our top sciatica stretches for pregnancy:
13. Seated hip, thigh, and butt stretch
While sitting on a chair that doesn’t raise your thighs above your bump, place both feet squarely on the floor in front of you.
Then raise one foot to rest on the opposite knee in a figure-4 pattern, and lean forward slightly, stretching your thigh, hip, and buttocks.
Slowly put your foot back on the floor and repeat with the other side.
It’s no surprise that this is one of the more popular sciatica stretches for pregnancy among the Peanut community!
14. Hamstring stretch
Find a low surface and rest one heel on top of it, making sure you have something to balance yourself on.
Lean gently forward until you feel the stretch behind the leg, then hold for a few seconds.
Rest your foot back on the floor and repeat with the other side. Remember not to push into pain - just until you feel a moderate stretch.
An easy and gentle stretch for sciatic pain during pregnancy.
15. Front-bend chair stretch
All you need for this pregnancy stretch is a chair with a back that’s about as high as the bottom of your bump.
Stand with the back of the chair facing you and your legs positioned slightly wider than your hips.
Lean forward slowly, reaching out for the top of the back of the chair, and hold the position for 10 seconds.
To get back to your standing position, straighten your back up slowly ‒ you don’t want to get lightheaded from moving too quickly!
Stretches for third trimester
So let’s dive into stretches for the third trimester.
What stretches to do before giving birth?
The sooner you start a pregnancy stretches routine, the more prepared you’ll be for labor and delivery.
You can do any of the pregnancy stretches we’ve listed above, but here are some stretches for pregnancy that our mamas on Peanut have sworn by:
- Kegels (seriously, just start doing Kegels!)
- Pelvic tilts
How can I avoid tearing during childbirth?
Perineal (or vaginal) tears (tears between your vulva and your anus) are pretty common during labor and delivery.
Some pregnancy stretches, like Kegels, can help reduce the chances of a perineal tear (or, more likely, minimize the size of the tear), but there are other things you can do to help avoid tearing during childbirth.
- Perineal massage: A vaginal or perineal massage done after week 35 of pregnancy can reduce the size of your perineal tear and can help with recovery.
- Switch up your birth position: While we’re used to the idea of a birth done while lying down, choosing a different birth position, like lying on your side or on your hands and knees, can take the pressure off your perineal area.
- Pushing on cue: Pushing sooner than you need to can also cause a deeper tear.
Pregnancy stretches for labor
How about pregnancy stretches to induce labor?
Well, any of our pelvic pregnancy stretches can help, as can sitting on a yoga ball.
But ultimately, baby will let you know when they’re ready to make their appearance!
What stretches to avoid when pregnant?
There are some stretches that are best to avoid during pregnancy, particularly when bump is getting bigger:
- Stretches that push your bump.
- Stretches that make you contort your body ‒ it should be a light stretch, not a pull.
- Deep back bends that make you feel the blood rushing to your head.
- Deep squats, especially during your third trimester.
- Stretches that require bounces or pulses to deepen the stretch.
It’s also important not to hold your breath during any safe pregnancy stretches ‒ this can cause you to strain, which can be harmful for both you and baby.
Keep breathing, slowly and deeply.
Pregnancy stretches can make pregnancy, labor, and childbirth a little more comfortable, so the sooner you start your pregnancy stretches routine, the better.
If you’re not sure about any of these stretches for pregnancy, or you’re feeling pain, check in with your healthcare provider.
Got any other pregnancy stretches you want to share with other mamas-to-be? Tell us all about it on Peanut!
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What to Know About Running While Pregnant
What to Know About Stress While Pregnant
Exercise During Pregnancy: 8 Helpful Tips
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